Sound — 7
This is the debut release by guitarist Greg X with Ken Tamplin on vocals. Greg X has successfully taught many guitar students over the years via the internet and Skype through his website www.gregxmusic.com, and has finally released an album of his own music. All lead, rhythm and bass guitar tracks were performed and recorded by Greg X, as well as the keys on several songs. All of the guitar work on the album sounds and feels very positive and its most attractive quality is the joy Greg X brought to recording the album, which you can hear in every song. The digital copy of the album includes 8 tracks as well as a pdf file of the liner notes including lyrics to every song as well as comments on every song by Greg X and vocalist, Ken Tamplin. The album clocks in at just over 37 minutes. After the first listen to "Dream" I had feelings slightly better than lukewarm about the album but after the second listen I think I was beginning to really get what the album is about. By my third listen I was really coming around and letting myself truly enjoy the album. This isn't what I've come to think of as hard rock (I.e. Overpowering distortion and screamed vocals). Instead, this album at times reminds me of Van Halen, Whitesnake, Led Zeppelin, Rainbow and other hard rock acts of the 70's and 80's. The guitar and bass lines have found the perfect blend of being exactly what they need to be in service of the song with Greg X's skill showing through without coming across as being overly showy. The solos have a very melodic hummable quality to them, coming across as sounding like David Gilmour with a splash of virtuosity.
Lyrics — 6
Ken Tamplin provides both lead and backup vocals throughout the album. Ken's vocals are almost exclusively clean with the choruses lushly layered to create vocal textures and harmonies that make the lyrics shine throughout each song with the exception of the instrumental track, "Victory". The lyrics of each song are very positive, inspirational and optimistic which is something unusual in modern music and appealing for that very reason. After several listens to the album and reading the comments by Ken Tamplin I realized that many of his lyrics are an expression of his Christian faith, but while the lyrics have a positive message they are not overtly Christian. The first track on the album "As The World Spins 'Round" is an observation of the dog eat dog nature of modern society, with such condemning lyrics as "The law of the jungle/ its take or get took/ better get yours quick/ by hook or by crook". The second track, "Dream The Dream" is about being optimistic in the face of all the negativity around us, "But I refuse to live my life/ in fear of tomorrow/ somehow we got by, we were meant to fly/ in spite of the sorrow". The song "How To Love" is a celebration of love with lyrics such as "So hold on to the only love/ dreamers in their spirit know/ the sun is shinin' whether day or night/ don't stop believin' it's worth the fight". "Wake Me (Before You Go)" is a kind of wake up call for those in relationships they may be neglecting before it is too late with lyrics such as "Why couldn't I see it coming/ we get so caught up in nothing/ we take for granted what's enchanted/ in exchange for other skies so blue". The song "Stand Up" in Ken Tamplin's own words is about avoiding becoming "zombie sheep" and not falling for propaganda, with lyrics "Movin' on yeah we're singing that same ole song/ can't we break the spell? / this tangled web we weave it goes on and/ on and on and on". The song "Love And Hate" possibly has the most interesting lyrics on the album with "Ring the bells and sound the alarm/ there's evil men out doin' their harm/ doin' the dance doin' their snake charm/ the piper's callin' pay the devil his due/ he's gonna mesmerize you with his voodoo/ enslaving men like me and you". The song "Waiting For You" is about how we may feel like 'good guys finish last', etc., that this isn't true - "They say that good things come to all of those who wait/ sometimes it seems like a dollar short and a little too late/ and when it comes, it comes you know as a surprise/ but I'm still looking for that blessing that ain't in disguise".
Overall Impression — 6
Greg X's album "Dream" may not be precisely the type of music I normally listen to, but the overwhelmingly positive messages throughout the album are very refreshing. At times I'm strongly reminded of Ritchie Blackmore and other times EVH in Greg X's playing; while Greg X still retains his own unique sound you can definitely hear his influences coming through occasionally. There is something nostalgic in listening to "Dream", and I would recommend everyone give it a listen. Check out Greg X at his website www.gregxmusic.com to find out how to purchase his album. My favorite songs on the album are the instrumental, "Victory", and the song "Love And Hate". The song "How To Love", while not a bad track, doesn't seem like it goes along with the rest of the album. In any future releases by Greg X I would like to hear more instrumentals as he really seemed to pull off an almost epic vibe with "Victory".